THE UNIVERSITY of Wales Trinity Saint David is part of the Syrian Refugee Task and Finish Group led by Ceredigion County Council. Ceredigion decided to accept the Home Office’s invitation to become a ‘Trailblazer Authority’ in supporting the Syrian refugees last October and will welcome the first group this week. Ceredigion has become one of the first counties in Wales to be able to accept the refugees during Phase 1 of the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme. A limited number of properties from the private sector have been identified and tenancies will be managed by a voluntary organisation.
This arrangement means that there is no intention to place the refugees in social housing. Speaking of UWTSD’s role on the Group, Dr Jane Davidson, Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor with responsibility for external engagement said: “The University is keen to play its role in addressing the major humanitarian needs of Syrian refugees and to support Ceredigion County Council in its determination to offer a safe haven at this difficult time. The University has therefore agreed that exploratory conversations should take place between the University and Tai Ceredigion over potential use of Bishop Burgess Hall in Lampeter, which is surplus to University requirements, for a small number of refugee families. If those discussions prove positive, then a planning application for change of use will take place in the normal way”.
Councillor Ellen ap Gwynn, Chairman of the Group and Council Leader, said: “In becoming a Trailblazer Authority, Ceredigion is able to contribute to the Wales wide efforts as early as possible to support the refugees. All of the partners who are part of the Task and Finish Group continue to work together in aid of these efforts, and the arrangements for receiving refugees are developing well. The support that has been shown by Ceredigion residents for the refugees is very heartening as we seek to help in the response to this emergency.”
The Task and Finish Group represents the partnership approach coordinated and lead by Ceredigion County Council as part of the Local Service Board, with representatives of each relevant partner organisations forming part of the Group. Lindsey Gilroy, the University’s Lampeter campus Business Development Officer is representing the University on the group and has already been fundraising and collecting fleeces to send to refugee camps. Possible arrivals have been identified by the UNHCR from refugee camps in the Middle East and referred through the Home Office scheme to provide homes for up to 20,000 refugees in the UK..”